eLearning design: Tips to help you excel



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eLearning design: Tips to help you excel

As a graphic designer, I have had my hands on many projects. As such, I have used and seen many techniques for creating deliverables. There are some design sins that you should never approach (like using the typeface Comic Sans) and then there are techniques that are part of your creative core. But what are those techniques? Have a read below to find out how you can excel your eLearning design:


Layout is crucial in eLearning design: it is about credibility and conveying a message. There are many factors that contribute to a good layout, from the size and position of videos and CTA placement to spacing of elements. Think about how your eyes are drawn to the largest elements on a page first. You don’t want your learners to miss out on the key takeaways because you displayed them in a smaller font.

Contrast is key

Contrast is one of the most essential considerations in design. It is vital that the information is clear, easy to digest and that you are keeping the learner visually engaged. Contrast isn’t just about colour, it can be referred to and be used in many ways, such as:

  • Typefaces: serif vs sans serif
  • Type weight: bold vs light italic
  • Colour value
  • Shapes
  • Patterns/textures

You should consider using a lighter coloured text to darker backgrounds and using a bolder font weight on headings than on body text. No matter what type of contrast you’re using the goal is to give hierarchy to information that you want to bring to the learners attention.


Text is one of the primary ways in which we convey information in eLearning. Good typography enhances readability, encourages information processing and engages the learner. There are a few things you should consider when creating your eLearning course:

  • Create hierarchy: When you’re designing an eLearning course, you should treat all your text differently. Learners will naturally scan your slides to determine what’s important. Adding spacing between headings and paragraphs creates whitespace and makes the text easier to read. You can also make the heading a few sizes larger than the body content. This will create a distinct sense of hierarchy. You can see this in the example below – not that we’d ever recommend this much text on an eLearning slide!

  • Never sacrifice legibility for style: Once you uncover the creative power of using different fonts, it’s easy to go overboard by using different styles. Although, it might be fun to use that crazy font that you downloaded, remember the importance of creating an effective learning experience. You don’t want the style of your text to become a barrier to your learning content. As a rule – use sans serif fonts for body content.

  • Understand online typography etiquette: When editing a block of text, it’s easy to create emphasis by underlining, bolding or italicising your text. Although these formatting options have a significant meaning to you, but that meaning is rarely translated by the learner. Only use formatting for emphasis when it has some specific meaning to the course content. Use bold text for headers, underline hyperlinks and use italics for quotes.


Colour has the ability to evoke emotions in the learners and make them feel more connected to the subject matter. It needs to be used with caution in order to achieve the desired effect. Below are some of the best practices to consider when using colour

  • It is best to stick to the 60-30-10 rule when choosing colours for your eLearning course. The basics of 60-30-10 rule is to choose a primary colour that dominates 60% of the area; a secondary colour to compromise about 30% of the visual field; and an accent colour that provides a 10% colour pop.
  • Consider your learner’s background, as different cultures affix different meanings to colours. For example, one culture might believe that red is off-putting, while another might consider it lucky. So, it’s better to research your audience’s background before you decide upon your ideal colours. Plus, did you know that 9% of the world population is colour blind? Therefore, you’ll want to be careful while using contrasting hues.
  • Have an idea of the mood you’re trying to achieve. This will allow you to prevent creating a mood that goes against what you are trying to accomplish. For instance, if you want to relax your learners before an assessment you would opt for blue instead of red to calm their nerves.

So, there you have it, my four point checklist of design tips that you should consider in your eLearning design. If you want some more graphic design tips, check out this blog from our Lead Visual Designer.

Keep an eye out for more ideas in the next series of the blog.